Continuing BookBlast’s series of interviews with the founders of independent presses, we catch up with Justin David, the publisher at www.inkandescent.co.uk and author of The Pharmacist and Kissing the Lizard ; and Nathan Evans, the editor at www.inkandescent.co.uk and author of Threads and CNUT. His forthcoming novella, One Last Song, is due for imminent release.
Are (were) your parents great readers? What were the books that made you fall in love with reading?
JUSTIN: Both of my parents are avid readers. As a child, I always saw my whole family with books in their hands. I wouldn’t say they exactly read widely but the act of reading was popular. Dad was always a fan the Douglas Reeman novels about Richard Bolitho and mum was much more of a Catherine Cookson and Mills and Boon type so I wasn’t exactly inspired to go and read the Canon as it were. Though both of them now read my own work.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t enjoy reading, so it’s difficult to say when and which book made me fall in love with the act of reading. What I can say is that I became more excited about reading was when I was allowed to choose my own books at the library and then when I got to secondary school we were made to read an awful lot of apocalyptic dystopian novels like John Wyndham — The Triffids, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoos. And then later on I got into horror and science-fiction which meant Stephen King and J.G. Ballard, back then. I don’t think I realised there was such a thing as queer literature though it would’ve been helpful in those days to have been introduced writers like Jeanette Winterson and Patrick White. Truth be told, it was when I was at art school that I started reading the children’s fiction of Philip Ridley and his adult plays like The Fastest Clock in the Universe and the Pitchfork Disney. The college library was full of this stuff and I just swallowed it all up. That’s when I realised that there was so much more to be explored. Continue reading Interview | Justin David and Nathan Evans, Directors, Inkandescent | Indie Publisher of the Week
Tell us a bit about your childhood and where you grew up.
It was a very privileged upbringing in the sense of growing up with a mother whose protective love and unquestioning belief in me gave me a strong sense of self and a confident “I can” rather than the terrorising “I cannot” which so many girls are schooled into. This early self-belief no doubt ensured that I came out of an English boarding school relatively unscathed. I grew up with a fiercely intelligent, industrious, and unlettered woman who equated education, financial astuteness, and sartorial elegance with freedom and brilliance! There was no drama of a gifted or damaged child; it was a very comforting childhood on Lagos Island.
Life was lived on the street and from our balcony with Yoruba Fuji, Juju and American soul music, the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer and the evangelists church bells knifing the air, all fighting for our souls, and all winning, because, in that Yoruba accommodative world all have their place. It was a childhood peopled by women of courage and self-possession, errant men, incessant noise, theatre, much laughter and without contamination. I love and appreciate this world and grounding, even as I craved solitude. It is the nucleus by which my identity, especially as a questioning being derives its meaning and purpose.
Were your parents great readers? What were the books that made you fall in love with reading?
There were no oak floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in our house. In their place, were hundreds of LPs of different genres of Yoruba music, played on the Grundig Stereogram. These records were probably my first introduction to text without writing. Music was the first thing that held my being in its fold and made me conscious of the evolving social and political landscape of Nigeria in the early 1980s. It was also the first art form that introduced me to the transformative power of storytelling to stir the emotion. So, my parents were not great readers of books, but they came to reading through music, so did I. Continue reading Interview | Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Cassava Republic Press | Indie Publisher of the Week
The second season of our weekly BookBlast Podcast series Bridging the Divide: Translation and the Art of Empathy went out in September. Our audience loved the first seven podcasts in the series so here’s the next eight for you to discover if you have not already done so!
The hosts, Georgia de Chamberet and Lucy Popescu, interview leading independent publishers, their award-winning or up-and-coming authors and highly creative translators filling a unique niche in showcasing inner and outer worlds, enriching our literary culture. Reviews of the books are featured in online journal, The BookBlast Diary.
So tune in and come on a literary adventure : it’s perfect to get you through lockdown 2.
Continue reading Podcast LIVE | Wrapping up Bridging the Divide: Translation and the Art of Empathy | season 2
Saint Lucian Writers and Writing edited by John Robert Lee is an indispensable author index of poetry, prose and drama available from Papillote Press. His other publications include Collected Poems 1975-2015, Canticles and Elemental. A new collection of poems, Pierrot, will be published by Peepal Tree Press in Leeds in February 2020.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Saint Lucian, lived there for most of my life, been involved with the arts, literature and media from the late 1960’s, from about nineteen. I attended the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados from 1969, finished off my degree at Mona, Jamaica in the early 1980’s, began work with the library service in St. Lucia in 1979 after working as a teacher, cultural officer and radio announcer and producer. Literature, theatre, literary journalism, media (print and electronic), libraries and teaching have been my main interests and occupations. I am a practising Christian and Bible teacher and preacher with my local Baptist church.
When you were growing up, what books had an impact on you?
My mother encouraged me to read and memorize poetry, my father bought me books; I read the usual Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, William and Jennings books, Enid Blyton, fairy tales and many of the classics. Comics of course. I had an early exposure to newspapers, principally the Trinidad Guardian which my father got daily. My father and mother were readers and encouraged reading. A year or so before I went to university, I took A-level classes in Literature and became introduced to the moderns – Eliot, D H Lawrence, Philip Larkin et al – read many anthologies and these have had a lifelong impact and influence. Continue reading Guest Feature | Leila Sackur interviews John Robert Lee (ed.) Saint Lucian Writers and Writing
Editor and publisher, Philip Gwyn Jones, has 25 years’ high-level experience at the heart of literary publishing in the UK. Most recently, he founded Portobello Books in 2004 and joined Scribe UK in 2014. He is a passionate and persuasive campaigner for great writing and has worked with both the conglomerates and the independents, as well as charities championing writing and writers, universities teaching the history and craft of writing and publishing, and literature festivals. @PGJpublishing @ScribeUKbooks
Are (were) your parents great readers? Tell us a bit about yourself.
My father read [and watched and listened to] only news, news, news. My mother was an aspirational reader and even more aspirational for her only child when he eventually arrived, and dutifully followed the advice in the women’s magazines of the 1960s-’70s from the likes of Kaye Webb about what books a child should be given to read. I ended up with a marvellous library of paperback kids’ books, mostly Puffins, from that time, which was largely ignored by my own children, and is now boxed up in the attic to be ignored by generations to come.
What was the book that made you fall in love with reading?
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which remains to me the greatest book of them all, containing, as it does, everything and its undoing and its explaining. Plus Asterix, in those puntastic Anthea Bell translations. Continue reading Interview | Philip Gwyn Jones, Scribe UK | Indie Publisher of the Week